According to the State Farm commercial, “You can’t put it on the internet if it’s not true!” A short time ago I wrote a piece on “The Art of Premise”, in which I propose the challenges of determining truth and the importance of establishing a malleable base to build toward truth. Now I know that I am going to have to run for the hills if my statistic professor gets wind of this, but research can be a dangerous vice to the search for truth.
The media is not dumb for they know that the average person does not know the word Correlation. A correlation is a relationship between things that happen or change together. At no point does it say that this relationship is a cause and effect. Dr. A once told us of a study that when the wind blows in [N. Dakota] blond people in [Florida] eat vanilla ice cream. Just a relationship of observed data, not a cause and effect.
I am a nerd: I do research observations nearly every day. I have observed that when sitting at a stop light the number of cars in front of me will tell me the number of seconds it will take me to get moving. I have observed when dropping my son off at school 50% of the parents will use the drop-off lane, whereas the other 50% will drop their child(s) off in the thru lane. I have observed that 25% of drivers you are waiting for will let you merge in. I have observed that less than 1% of people will respond to a car alarm, but 60% will flash me that there is a cop up the way. Again I am a nerd as I do many more observations per day, but none of my observations are valid for zeitgeist research for I have not gone through the process of designing a study and I am not seeking zeitgeist recognition, nor approval.
To appease the zeitgeist a researcher must design an approved study with approved variables, crunch the data through complex calculations, and account for all confounding variables before proposing the results. The zeitgeist determines truth of the results. However, unfortunately it is the confounding variables that can make research potentially dangerous in manipulative hands and/or ignorance of correlation.
I knew a researcher who was very passionate about her study. What she saw in the data was not exactly what I saw, but it was her baby and her view that mattered. This is the confounding variable of the Rosenthal Effect. I myself engaged as the participant of a study of which I had already known the techniques of the study. This is the confounding variable of the Hawthorn Effect. I always love the confounding “If” variable which says the results are true “If” everything happens the way it is written. Then there is the confounding variable that angers me: The funding variable.
I worked for a state organization which tracked patient data to determine course of treatment and distribution of funds. I kid you not – The staff was commanded (not instructed) to answer the questions in a specific way to promote fundable appearance. It absolutely infuriated me that even though I adamantly refused to alter data it did not matter because the data I entered was being changed before submission. I call this the Vanity Effect…
Research is meant to help us determine what was, and what is now, to help us transcend to what will be. How much of what we know, and what we become, is or will be true?
Collaborative Topic: How do you determine truth…?